Wednesday 14 June 2023

Life With Ghosts

It feels nice to be able finally to write something not about David Grusch; I've definitely got "Grusch fatigue", see: I've just watched a film called Life With Ghosts. It was originally called Living With Ghosts, but they changed it for some reason; possibly because it's also the title of an album by the controversial rock band My Chemical Romance. The film is a documentary that reminds me of a very much of an excellent article from Nexus magazine a few years ago about a new method of bereavement counselling called "continuing bonds". The documentary is based on the work of an author called Ethel Beardsworth who practices a form of clairvoyance called "automatic writing". She literally sits down with a pen and paper and writes messages to spirits who then reply through her by making her write down their messages. She has suffered two major bereavements in her life; her husband Harold and one of her sons. Her son, Kevin, died in 2000 very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of forty-six. He had a heart attack while playing racquetball. The film also focuses on Kevin's widow, Karen; and their two daughters, Jessica and Stefanie, who were young girls at the time. Karen originally takes a very dim view of her mother's assertions, but slowly changes her mind when she agrees to take part in a research project to test the value of continuing bonds. There are a number of interviews with some interesting talking heads, including Joe Dispenza who was in What The Bleep Do We Know?. See here for the trailer:
Conventional bereavement counselling focuses on the need for "closure", that means essentially saying a mental goodbye to the person who has died. Different people have different beliefs about death and what happens afterwards, if anything. Atheo-skeptics of course see death as the permanent end of ones existence. Religious concepts vary, but most accept there is an afterlife of various descriptions; but that it is off-limits to living people and there can be no communication across the borders of death. A person suffering grief can have no contact with their loved one until the moment of their own death; therefore there is also a requirement for closure. As one of the experts in the interviews says: "We are not a society prepared to deal with grief." Continuing bonds is very different. It focuses on a person continuing their relationship with the person they have lost, regardless of whether they believe their loved one is still extant in spirit or whether they're materialists and just see it as a mental exercise. The film examines the evidence for death survival in a positive and open-minded way. It is very moving and inspiring to see the change come over the subjects, especially Karen, as they recover from the emotional pain they have carried for over twenty years. Ethel also manages to convince some of the old ladies who live near her to give it a try. It's a lovely film and I wish it would be put on general release, but unfortunately it is only being shown currently in a series of limited online screenings. However, if you sign up to their mailing list, the producers will send you an invitation when a screening is due to take place. The price is reasonable and I'm glad I choose to join one. See here for details:
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